Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The news cycle rolls on

The day after the Houston Texans upset the Indianapolis Colts, callers to SportsTalk 790 in Houston were ready to buy their Super Bowl tickets. The day after the Texans were stomped by the (evil) Dallas Cowboys, those same callers were ready to fire the coach.

Yesterday a mudslide swallowed the Mexican town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec. Initial accounts listed the probable death toll at 1,000. As it turned out, the actual death toll was seven.

With cable and satellite television, talk radio, the internet, Twitter and Facebook accessible to so many people, the news cycle has shrunk from 24 hours to mere minutes. Rumors grow legs and become news. Overreaction is commonplace.

This is the world in which our jurors live. They are bombarded constantly with information - some of it useful and some of it just noise. By tomorrow, today's big story will be but a memory as some new catastrophe will take its place.

What the first witness said will be overshadowed by what each subsequent witness says - and everything those witnesses say will be overshadowed by what the jurors can actually see.

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